Release Date: Oct 20, 2009
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Yoshimi P-We may well be best known as the titular pink robot-battling heroine of The Flaming Lips’ most famous album, but given how bizarre [b]‘Armonico Hewa’[/b] is, this is a mighty shame. When she’s not being an essential component of J-psych rhythm unit Boredoms or Free Kitten with Kim Gordon she is the driving force (drums, vocals, guitar, trumpet) of [a]OOIOO[/a] and this, their sixth album, is equal in brilliance to anything they’ve done before. [b]‘Honki Ponki’[/b] is a Japanese riposte to Tom Tom Club’s ‘Wordy Rappinghood’, while [b]‘Polacca’[/b] is a lurching punchdrunk romp through African funk.
Japanese all-female group and Boredoms offshoot OOIOO's fifth album, 2006's Taiga, holds a more than respectable score of 78 on Metacritic, but it split Pitchfork listeners. The percussion heavy, often amelodic beast came off as needlessly difficult and even lazy to some staffers, yet Dominique Leone claimed it to be, in so many words, the easiest entry point in the OOIOO catalogue. I don't begrudge either extreme viewpoint: OOIOO's output is divisive for the simple reason that the band has a unique capacity to both wow and disappoint.
For those of you who haven’t been swept through OOIOO’s previous free-fall experiments, the band is a Boredoms offspring, all-female wonder. Yoshimi P-We, member of the noise extravagants and drummer for UFO and Die formed OOIOO in 1995, skipping rhythms as multi-layered as those of her parent bands. The quintet’s interactions of voice, guitar, bass and drums defy the conventional ordering of such elements, exploring – across various line-ups - sterling to soft, excessive to esoteric, noise.
Armonico Hewa is OOIOO’s sixth full-length album and first since the release of Taiga in 2006. As usual, the band has some fun with language in creating its new album title. “Armónico” is Spanish for “harmonic” and “hewa” is Swahili for “air”. The band suggests “air in a harmonious state” as a translation of the title.
Yoshimi P-We sure likes to keep herself busy. When she’s not drumming for brutal noise rockers Boredoms, hammering toms in drumming troupe OLAbi, or noise-making with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon in Free Kitten, she’s fronting her own band. With OOIOO, Yoshimi takes the helm of an all-woman quartet and minces the creative ideas she’s gathered throughout her career.
Built to Spill Doug Martsch, Built to Spill’s songwriter, guitarist and singer, turned 40 this year, and his band’s seventh studio album, “There Is No Enemy” (Warner Brothers), hunkers down as he ponders surviving over the long haul. Most of the songs trudge along, methodical and steadfast ….